Ozone (O3)

Business / Agriculture / Ozone (O3): A highly reactive molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Environmentally, ozone is important in two completely separate contexts—one, as a naturally occurring screen of harmful radiation in the outer atmosphere (i.e., stratospheric ozone), and two, as a component of polluting smog formed from emissions resulting from human activities (i.e., urban smog). In the stratosphere 7 to 10 miles above the Earth, naturally occurring ozone acts to shield the Earth from harmful radiation. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that emissions of certain chemicals catalyze destruction of stratospheric ozone, allowing more radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. The U.S. is a signatory to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances, which bans or limits uses of chemicals whose emissions deplete stratospheric ozone. Among the chemicals being phased out as ozone depleters are chlorofluorocarbons used in refrigeration and air conditioning and methyl bromide, a pesticide. In the lower atmosphere (troposphere), ozone is a major air pollutant that contributes to smog, adversely affects human health, and is toxic to some plants, damaging forests and crops. Tropospheric ozone forms from reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. The precursor pollutants are emitted by combustion sources such as motor vehicles and utilities, use of solvents, and petrochemical facilities. Tropospheric ozone is regulated under a National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Ozone Layer

Science / Weather / Ozone Layer: An atmospheric layer that contains a high proportion of oxygen that exists as ozone. It acts as a filtering mechanism against incoming ultraviolet radiation. It is located between the troposphere and MORE

Ozone (O3)

Business / Agriculture / Ozone (O3): A highly reactive molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Environmentally, ozone is important in two completely separate contexts—one, as a naturally occurring screen of harmful radiation in the ou MORE

Ozone

Science / Biology / Ozone: A triatomic (O3) form of oxygen that is formed in the stratosphere when sunlight strikes oxygen atoms. This atmospheric ozone helps filter radiation from the sun. MORE

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